By Moses Akaigwe 08072100049
Following silhouette presentations in some parts of the world, the all-new Kia Picanto, now in its third-generation, was formally shown to the Middle-East and Africa motoring media as part of an exciting test-drive in Tunis, Tunisia last week.
The event was held ahead of the city car’s planned staggered launches into the various markets across the region, beginning from the second quarter of the year.
And, though the Picanto has been vastly reengineered and restyled to flaunt an assertive new design and a high-quality, high-tech new cabin, it is retaining the strengths of its predecessor, with enhanced safety and greater value for money.
At the event, Kia Motors Corporation gave an indication of the high value placed on the all-new Picanto when the President, Regional Headquarters, Middle East & Africa, Mr. Soon-Nam Lee, remarked that the car was strategic to the brand’s target of selling about 3.17 million vehicles globally this year.
Lee explained at a press conference on the eve of the test-drive which featured journalists from about nine countries in the region, including Nigeria, that part of this plan was to ensure that the car, captures a greater share of sales in the A-segment (compact cars) which is among the most popular in almost every part of the world.
Predicatbly, the all-new Picanto is wearing an eye-catching look that belies its compact nature. Watch out for the stylish contours, and the straight lines that run horizontally across the front of the car, emphasizing the ‘tiger-nose’ grille and angular new wrap-around headlamps. With the wheelbase extended to 2,400 mm (an increase of 15 mm), the wheels have been pushed further out to the corners for a 25 mm shorter front overhang,
In its most basic form, the Picanto is fitted with 13-inch steel, but customers can also select one of two aluminum alloy wheel designs, ranging from 14- to 15-inches in diameter. The exterior can also be specified with new projection headlamps with LED indicators and LED daytime running lights.
For the first time, Kia will also offer the Picanto in a new ‘GT-Line’ though there were indications that Kia Motors Nigeria, (which produces and sells Kia vehicles in Nigeria)may not be in a hurry to provide the sporty version in the local market.
Interior: Inside the new Picanto, Kia designers have created a more modern, refined cabin than the second-generation model, with new materials and layout adding a greater sense of quality for occupants..
The dashboard layout is now more centrally aligned, with a large ‘floating’ HMI (human-machine interface) sitting at the heart of the centre console and moving many of the car’s controls further up into the driver’s line of sight. A satin chrome-effect strip runs across the dashboard for a higher quality ambience.
Customisation is key to the appeal of the 2017 Picanto’s cabin. While black and grey cloth seats are available as standard, buyers can also personalise their interior with one of five optional colour packs, featuring contrast artificial leather upholstery and stitching.
Packaging: Despite its on-road footprint remaining the same as that of the outgoing model, the all-new Picanto will offer buyers high levels of packaging efficiency, with maximum versatility resulting from its larger cabin and class-leading boot capacity.
In line with the increasing trend towards five-door models in the A-segment, the new model is no larger than its predecessor, at 1,485 mm in height, 3,595 mm long and 1,595 mm wide. The new platform boasts a longer wheelbase and longer rear overhang, freeing up more space in the cabin and boot.
Inside, the new Picanto provides occupants with more leg- and head-room than best-selling rivals in the A-segment, while the base of the dashboard has been moved upwards by 15 mm for greater knee and leg space for front passengers.
The boot size has grown from 200 litres to a maximum 255 litres – the largest of any car in the class. The rear seat bench can be folded down with a one-touch lever for maximum ease of use, boosting cargo capacity to 1,010 liters. 60:40 split-folding seat backs are available.
Ride/Handling: All-new Picanto will be replacing an outgoing model that earned commendations for its combination of immediate handling responses and a comfortable ride. To improve on these characteristics in the new model, Kia engineers made a series of modifications to the suspension – independent by MacPherson strut at the front; torsion beam at the rear – to realise greater ride stability and quicker, more enjoyable handling responses.
A new rack for the optional column-mounted motor-driven power steering means the steering ratio has been quickened by 13 percent over the outgoing Picanto,
Engines, transmissions: The successful 1.0- and 1.25-litre multi-point injection (MPI) petrol engines are carried over from the outgoing Picanto, but with a range of enhancements to improve efficiency and driveability. Both engines are paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission, delivering power to the front wheels.
The 1.0-litre MPI engine is the most fuel efficient engine available to Picanto buyers, and provides the entry point into the Picanto range. The four-cylinder 1.25-litre MPI engine also produces peak power.
Refinement: A range of dramatic modifications, including a new soundproofing panel further isolates the cabin from vibrations and noise from the road, wind and the engine. The result is a car that offers one of the quietest cabins of any A-segment model, both at idle and at a steady cruise.
Technology: The dashboard houses a 3.8-inch monochrome TFT LCD audio system, with clear buttons to control the system’s functions. There is also the optional 7.0-inch full-colour touchscreen infotainment offering a Bluetooth connection to smartphones to play music on the go.
Safety: The new Picanto was presented to the journalists as the safest A-segment car Kia has ever made, featuring double the proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) compared to the outgoing model and a selection of active safety technologies. The body is stronger than ever before, because 44 percent of the bodyshell is cast in AHSS (up from 22 percent), Enhancing this are two front and four front side and curtain airbags.
Stability Management (VSM) with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) ensures stability under braking and cornering, detecting a loss in traction and using ESC to help the driver keep the car on course. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) are also available.
There were hints at Kia Motors Nigeria head office (Dana House) in Isolo, Lagos, over the weekend that it might take a few more months before the all-new Picanto will be launched into the local market.